A Scott Wilson penalty on the stroke of half-time secured the national title for Hartpury as they saw off holders Stirling in the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) National Championship final at Loughborough.
After being brought down in the box, the striker picked himself up to dispatch the spot kick beyond the reach of the goalkeeper to send Marc Richards’ side on their way to the title for the first time since 2011.
The university side capped off a great day of football for Hartpury, with the Under-18s first team having secured their national title earlier in the day.
Hartpury started with a higher intensity and were immediately pressing their Scottish opponents. After just five minutes, Hartpury created their first chance. Link-up play between full-back Jimmy Oates and midfielder Mat Liddiard saw the latter produce an enticing ball across the box, with Wilson just inches away from connecting with a diving header.
In the 10th minute, another good passage of possession saw a chance worked up for centre midfielder Jamie Edge on the edge of the box but his goalbound effort was blocked by a recovering Stirling defender. Two minutes later, the ball was in the back of the net. A ball from captain Liddiard released Wilson, who managed to produce a shot that beat the keeper and found the far corner. Unfortunately for the striker and Hartpury, play had been called back for an earlier foul on a defender.
In the 22nd minute, a Hartpury corner saw the ball headed out in the path of winger Ross Staley, who produced a great strike that the keeper could only parry straight to Chris Knowles. The centre midfielder tucked away the rebound but this time Stirling were saved by the assistant’s flag with Knowles judged offside.
Wilson was constantly threatening Stirling’s backline and in the 41st minute he capitalised on a defensive error to race through on goal and round the keeper, only to be taken down. The speedy striker produced a fantastic penalty to give Hartpury a deserved lead but just moments before half-time, goalkeeper Harvey Rivers had to be alert to tip a headed effort from a corner over the bar.
The second half was played out in similar fashion to the first, with Hartpury in the ascendancy. In the 55th minute, Staley picked up the ball and unleashed a rasping drive from 30 yards out that flashed just past the post. Five minutes later, a series of testing deliveries from Edge saw another effort from Staley fall just wide.
Hartpury were in control and any threat that was posed by Stirling was quickly snuffed out by the back-line as the side continued to search for a second goal. And it almost came in the 74th minute when a corner saw Stirling head the ball against their own crossbar.
In the final few minutes, Hartpury created a flurry of chances with centre half Matt Williams seeing his effort on goal blocked while substitute Nathan Modest could only shoot straight at the keeper after more good work from Wilson.
As the game headed into injury-time, a fantastic piece of skill down the left flank saw Staley in a promising position but his cross fizzed across the goalmouth with no team-mate able to provide a finishing touch.
Hartpury saw out the remaining minutes to clinch a comfortable victory and another trophy to add to the growing collection.
Marc Richards, Hartpury’s senior football manager, said: “It was an extremely professional performance by the lads and they deserved the win. I’m extremely proud of the whole squad for their efforts all season and this final win caps it all off.”